While no one likes thinking about their own mortality, writing a will is an important part of planning for your family's future. (So is finding the right life insurance.)
When creating a will, you start by deciding who will receive your assets when you’re gone. But this is just the first step. Once your plan is on paper, someone still has to make sure your final wishes are met and your family is cared for.
That someone is your executor – the person designated to perform all the legal tasks related to your last will and testament. It’s a big job. So before you write down a name, seriously consider the responsibilities to determine who might be a good fit.
What Does an Executor Do?
Your executor doesn’t have to be a professional. All it takes is a patient, mature person who can handle the responsibility.
The duties of an executor include:
- Offering your will for probate
- Taking inventory and managing your assets
- Using your estate’s funds to pay bills, including taxes, funeral and burial costs
- Notifying banks, creditors and government agencies of the death
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
- Preparing and filing final income tax returns
- Paying off any debts
How to Choose the Right Person to Be Your Executor
Because of the significant responsibilities placed on your executor, not everyone will be right for the job. Here are some tips on how to choose an executor for your will:
- Choose someone you trust. Pick someone who is emotionally and financially wise. It helps if you know your executor will be humble enough to ask for help if things get complicated, too.
- Name a successor. Ideally, your executor will outlive you. But in the event that doesn’t happen, it’s always wise to name a successor – just in case.
- Avoid any feuds. When it comes to dividing your estate, tensions can run high. Choose a neutral party that will cause the least amount of conflict. Consider a group who works well together, or someone outside of the family to minimize disputes.
- Choose someone qualified. Make sure your first choice is a legal one. In most cases, non-U.S. citizens, felons and minors can’t act as executors. If your executor is young – such as a son or daughter – you can request that he or she only acts as executor after reaching a certain age.
- Find a third party, if needed. Consider using a bank, trust company or other professional to manage your estate. Third parties can ease the burden for loved ones, and the cost can be covered from your estate.
- Change if necessary. As your life and relationships change, you may want to consider changing your executor, too. Periodically review your will to ensure your executor is still someone you trust to serve your estate.
- Get their approval. Always talk to your executor about the role beforehand. Go over your will so they’re prepared for the work ahead. This will make it less overwhelming for them when the time comes.
Protect Your Family’s Future
Part of securing your legacy is protecting the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to build for your family. Ask your local ERIE agent about affordable and flexible life insurance options from Erie Family Life that can help take care of your loved ones for years to come. Learn more about the different types of life insurance we offer.
Ready for a personalized quote? Contact your local ERIE agent to learn more about how you can protect your family’s future.
Posted on 11 November 2019 | 9:00 pm
As a homeowner, you’ve probably entertained guests who overstayed their welcome. But unlike your in-laws or a former college roommate… an animal that’s made itself at home on your property has no intention of leaving.
Some of the usual suspects include raccoons, opossums, woodchucks, skunks or the occasional stray cat. And while they’re just looking for a safe place to call home, you’d probably prefer it wasn’t under your porch or shed.
How can I tell if an animal is living under my porch?
Wondering if an animal has decided to move in? Here are some things you should look for:
- Animal sightings: This one’s obvious. But if you see an animal entering and exiting the space below your porch multiple times, there’s a high likelihood it’s not just visiting. Of course, many nuisance animals are nocturnal. So if you want to catch them in the act, think about investing in a motion-sensor trail camera – many models can be found for less than $50 online.
- Damage: One of the reasons animals are worth evicting from around your home is the damage they can do to your home and property. Look for burrow holes, gnawed wood and eaten vegetation around the area.
- Paw prints: Spread a light dusting of sand or flour around your porch at night, then check for prints in the morning.
- Droppings: We know – ewww. But animal droppings, or scat, can help you confirm the identity of your newest neighbor.
How can I get the animal to leave?
When evicting an animal near a house, many well-meaning homeowners turn to live traps as a humane solution for removal. But according to experts, the trap-and-release method rarely ends well for captured animals. You could separate a mother from its young, or the animal could have difficulty thriving in the area you choose to release it.
So instead of setting a trap, try to convince the animal to move out on its own. Here are some ways to persuade an animal into finding a new home:
- Noise: Chances are, the animal you’re trying to evict decided to move in because it found a safe, quiet space under your porch. Leaving a radio playing under your porch for a few days can send it searching for a more tranquil home.
- Light: Animals like raccoons, possums, groundhogs and skunks like dark, quiet spaces. Plugging in a strobe light or some flashing Christmas lights near the problem area can serve as another good deterrent.
- Scents: If you’ve pinpointed the type of animal living under your porch, try buying some granular repellent to spread around the area. You could also try a rag soaked in a strong-smelling (but non-toxic) solution, like apple cider vinegar.
- Call a professional: If you’re not having any luck evicting an animal on your own, consider calling a professional pest removal company. They’ll make sure the animal is removed safely and humanely.
How do I keep an animal from returning?
Once you’re sure the animal has moved out, it’s time to keep it out for good. Similar to preventing smaller creatures like batsand squirrelsfrom entering your home, you should start by sealing off the area. For decks and porches, you can use decorative lattice with some wire mesh behind it. Just be sure to bury the bottom of the barrier so animals are unable to sneak underneath it. For sheds and other buildings, fill in any burrow holes with dirt. Then, spread animal repellent in the area a few times each year.
Does my homeowners insurance cover animal damage?
Generally speaking, damage from animals is not covered by your homeowners insurance. That’s because it’s considered a home maintenance issue, since the damage is gradual – as opposed to a sudden event, like your neighbor’s tree falling on your roof.An insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent can help you understand what your insurance does (and doesn’t) cover. Find a local agent in your neighborhood to ask questions or get a customized homeowners insurance quote.
Posted on 5 November 2019 | 9:00 pm
Looking for a way to spend quality time with your kids – while pulling them away from their electronic screens and devices? Try getting everyone together for a family game night.
To some, game night may seem old fashioned. But it’s still a great way to bond with the whole family, enjoy a few laughs and get your competitive juices flowing. In fact, research has shown that games can help boost your child’s motor skills, advance memory techniques, maintain strong communication and even improve grades at school.
Ready to settle in for an evening of fun-filled competition? Here are six ideas for making your next family game night a success:
- Classic board games: Some board games have become timeless family classics for a reason. Bring on the fun and nostalgia by seeing who can buy the most properties in Monopoly. Solve the mystery in the billiard room with a game of Clue. Or test your steady surgeon’s hand in a game of Operation.
- Dice games: Dice games are easy to play and come in plenty of variations. Try to roll all five of the same numbers to score a Yahtzee! Be the first to score 10,000 points in Farkle. Roll as many 2s as you can in Bunco. Or see who can match all of their dice the fastest in Tenzi.
- Card games: For young family members, matching numbers and colors in a game of Uno can make a great introduction to card games. Looking for something a little more advanced? Figure out who can take the least number of tricks in Spades, or try to get three tricks in a game of Euchre.
- Guessing games: Looking to liven things up? Divide your family into two teams for charades. Have one team act out your favorite spare time activity or scene from a movie. No talking, though! Or grab two pads of paper and try to guess what each team is drawing in Pictionary. It helps to be a good artist – but it’s more fun if you’re not.
- Singing competitions: Find out who in your family can hit those high notes or laugh as you try to remember the lyrics. Pick two people to serve as judges. Then, sing along to your favorite songs. Use a karaoke machine to add to your fun.
- Puzzles: If you want a break from the competition, why not try something everyone can work on together? Jigsaw puzzles are a great team activity. Just grab your favorite puzzle and watch the pieces come together.
Don’t forget to add in your favorite snacks as you begin your competitive banter. Consider some healthier foods as you play, and maybe end your evening with a dessert or ice cream. It will be one more way that you can create memories for your kids as they grow.
WANT MORE INSPIRATION FOR FAMILY FUN?
Check out these related stories on the Eriesense blog:
- 6 Fresh Ideas for a Fun Family Dinner Night
- 9 Best Driveway Games
- 4 Creative Ideas for Family Movie Night
Posted on 23 October 2019 | 9:00 pm
Most people are clear on which type of gas their car needs. But not as many are clear on the differences between regular and premium gas.
Why use regular instead of premium gas?
One obvious difference is the price.
According to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration premium fuel nationally averages about 60 cents more per gallon than regular gasoline, and 25 cents more than midgrade gas.
What is the difference in octane levels?
Octane is how much compression a fuel can withstand before igniting, or rather it’s a measurement of a fuel’s ability to avoid knock. Gas stations typically carry three octane grades. State laws regulate which octane levels can be listed as premium, midgrade or regular. Typically “regular” gas is 87 octane, “midgrade” is 89 octane and over 91 octane is “premium” gasoline. Some states label top-tier gasoline with 93 octane as “ultra” gas.
Can I switch from premium to regular gas?
Cars are designed to run best with a specific type of fuel.
A higher octane gas won’t ignite as quickly, which explains why high-performance cars with high compression engines often require higher octane gas. Engines that take higher octane fuel tend to work more efficiently and emit less emissions and exhaust.
It is important to use the required octane for your specific car. Using the right octane level can prevent damage to your car’s engine and help it run at maximum efficiency.
If you use a lower than recommended level, the gas may combust too fast for your engine. That can cause the engine to make a knocking noise. In addition to this unwanted noise, a lower than recommended gas can also reduce your car’s power and fuel economy and cause engine damage.
When it comes to the opposite—using a fuel with a higher octane rating than recommended—the risk of danger is lower. The general consensus is that using premium gas when your car can run on regular gas doesn’t deliver any extra benefits when it comes to engine life, fuel economy or reduced emissions.
If your engine uses higher compression ratios, typically you will need to use higher octane-rated gas. Your owner’s manual will let you know what gas is best for your car model, or look inside your fuel door; it should have a sticker showing your car’s fuel requirements.
If your car requires premium fuel, the sticker will read “Premium Unleaded Fuel Only” as well as the octane level required; some models will simply note “Premium Fuel Recommended.”
Can you mix premium and regular gas?
Mixing different octanes doesn’t improve your car engine’s performance. It is best to stick with the manufacturer’s recommendation for peak performance.
Does premium gas last longer?
If your car’s manual simply states to use “premium” or “premium recommended” you may want to test the different premium levels to see how your car’s performance changes. You can do this by getting your gas tank to the quarter level, or lower, and fill up with one of the premium grades. Keep a log to track of your gas mileage while driving with the different premium gas octanes. Test the different octane levels and pay attention to how your car feels and sounds while driving; also note any differences in acceleration rate.
To improve your car’s overall performance drive it more efficiently. For example, don’t floor the gas when taking off from a red light or stop sign. When driving distances, highway mileage, drive at a consistent fashion without making quick accelerations.
At Erie Insurance, we know life is all about balance. Whether you’re selecting the best gas or the right insurance for your car, it is important to find the sweet spot between your budget and getting the protection you need. With flexible options, ERIE Agents can help you customize your coverage at just the right price. Learn more about auto insurance or find a local ERIE agent near you.
This was originally published in 2017. It was updated in 2019 with new information. Amanda Prischak and Sara Erhartic contributed to this story.
Posted on 23 October 2019 | 9:00 pm
Just six months after retiring from 32 years on the Richmond, Virginia, Fire Department, Len Archer got a devastating diagnosis from his doctor. He had pancreatic cancer, and he likely had only two to eight months to live.
In an instant, Len, 56, and his wife, Paula, went from planning their retirement to preparing for what appeared to be the inevitable.
At the urging of a friend, Len reached out to Cancer Treatment Centers of America® to see if there was any hope. Within a day, he heard back about a trial study with pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.® But there was a big catch: although Len had health insurance, it would not cover the costly experimental treatment.
Soon after he received his diagnosis, Len vowed that he would not allow the cancer to bankrupt them and leave his wife “living under a bridge” after his death. Now the Archers faced the wrenching choice of draining their savings and selling the dream home they purchased a decade ago, or foregoing the treatment.
That’s when Len’s ERIE agent, Doug Cox, called.
'Literally a Lifesaver'
Doug, who previously worked with Len at the fire department, had heard of his diagnosis. Years before, Doug had issued his friend a life insurance policy. As part of that $150,000 policy, Erie Family Life automatically included an Accelerated Death Benefit Rider* at no additional cost. This rider allows for half of the policy’s value to be used in the event of a terminal diagnosis.
“When Doug called, it was like an angel was talking to me,” Len said. “I had completely forgotten that something like this was available.” The rider provided $75,000 that was quickly deposited in Len’s bank account. The additional money made Len’s decision a no-brainer. He would go forward with the experimental treatment, without being forced to sell his home or drain his savings.
“It was literally a lifesaver,” Len says. “The $75,000 gave us the breathing room we needed to get our finances in order and keep the wolves from the door. We were able to make some financial moves and are doing fine now.”
Remarkably, it’s not just Len’s finances that are healthier than expected. He is currently seeing positive results from the treatment. The cancer has stopped spreading, and doctors are cautiously optimistic that he will be able to add considerable time—maybe years—to his life.
Already, he’s been able to celebrate his granddaughter’s 13th birthday—something he thought he’d never see.
“ERIE put hope in our hearts and gave me a reason to live,” Len says. “Quite simply, Doug Cox and ERIE saved my life.”
Len has become an advocate for a bill proposed in Virginia to help firefighters diagnosed with cancer—an occupational hazard they contend stems from the increasing amount of toxins they are exposed to on the job.
And he’s encouraging everyone he knows to talk to an ERIE agent about life insurance and obtaining this rider as part of their policy.
“Give yourself the peace of mind—and a fighting chance,” Len says. “Call an ERIE agent right now to make sure you have proper life insurance coverage in place. You won’t regret it.”
To learn more about the Accelerated Death Benefit Rider, talk to your local ERIE agent, who can help you consider your options based on your personal situation and help determine what coverage is right for you.
*ERIE® life products and services, provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company, based in Erie, Pa., a member of Erie Insurance Group, are not available in New York. The rider is available in conjunction with a qualifying life policy. See individual policies for specific coverage details. Certain terms and limitations may apply. Refer to our disclaimer for additional information.
Posted on 13 October 2019 | 9:00 pm